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Richard N. Wright


In the last quarter of the 20th Century, building and fire research programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, formerly the National Bureau of Standards, provided one of the most significant sources of technology, measurements and standards for the construction and fire safety communities of the world. These communities are of great social and economic importance. The built environment shelters and supports most human activities. Its functionality, safety, environmental quality, aesthetics, and economy are important to everyone's quality of life and productivity. In the United States, new construction, renovation, operation and maintenance of constructed facilities amount to over 1/8 of the Gross Domestic Product, and the costs of fire protection and losses to unwanted fires exceed $200 billion, annually. This history summarizes the technical accomplishments of these programs and their impacts, the existential and management challenges faced by the programs, and the visions and efforts of the staff.
Building Science Series - 179
Report Number


Building and fire research, built environment, codes, earthquakes, economics research, environmental systems, fire-hazard assessment, fire simulations and suppressants, life-cycle cost methods, materials, measurements, refrigerants, smoke detectors, standards, structures, test methods, wind.


Wright, R. (2003), BUILDING AND FIRE RESEARCH AT NBS/NIST 1975-2000, Building Science Series, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created December 1, 2003, Updated November 10, 2018